Iraq says suicide bomber kills 7 in northern Baghdad park

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A suicide bomber blew himself up late Wednesday at a crowded park in Iraq’s capital, killing at least seven people in the first such attack in Baghdad since the start a week ago of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, security officials said.

They said police and emergency workers intercepted the bomber as he entered the park in Shoala, a mainly Shiite district in northern Baghdad, but he managed to set off his bomb before being caught.

At least 16 people were wounded in the attack, which the officials said could have claimed many more victims if the bomber had gotten himself deeper into the park before blowing himself up.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Baghdad’s parks, outdoor eateries, cafes and commercial areas are usually packed during Ramadan starting shortly after sunset until the small hours of the next day when Muslims eat their last meal before they begin their daily dawn-to-sunset fast.

Ramadan this year fell in the summer, making the fast particularly grueling given the season’s typically high temperatures in Iraq. Muslims refrain from drink, food and sex from dawn to sunset during Ramadan, which began in Iraq on May 17.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing, which bore the hallmarks of the Islamic State extremist group. Iraq has been plagued by nearly daily attacks blamed on militants for most of the 15 years since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq.

Baghdad, a favorite target, has seen a dramatic drop in the number of attacks blamed on militants since the government declared victory over the IS group in December. That ended more than three years of war in which security forces backed by a US-led coalition drove IS fighters out of large swaths of territory once held by the group.

IS pockets remain in western and northern Iraq where militants occasionally attack security forces.

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